And now Huskies root for Devils, vice versa

With the implementation of the ratings-percentage index (RPI) in Colorado high school sports, both Eagle Valley, right, and Battle Mountain football face different opponents with different goals.
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photo |

My favorite part of football?

It’s not the quarterback passing. It’s not wicked moves by running backs. Not great catches by wide outs or kick returns.

I like line play and tackling.

When I watch football on Sunday and Monday — nothing against college football, but I’m sort of busy on Saturdays, covering all things preps — I watch the lines.

Which line imposes its will on the other? How does the O-line open holes for the running back? (Then I can enjoy Carlos Hyde run. Obligatory Niners reference.) Does the O-line give a quarterback time to throw? (The Cowboys certainly did against the football Giants, but that may be more of a commentary on New York’s lack of a pass rush.)

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Can the defense counter with its set seven? Does it stunt? Does it bring a blitzer? How does the offensive line counter the pressure? I love a running back that can block.

This is the game, and our transition to the local sports scene.

Eagle Valley won last week’s rivalry football game at Battle Mountain in the trenches. Yes, the pistol and the spread and the hurry-up, all trendy offenses these days, are great, but win the line of scrimmage on defense and it doesn’t matter whether the offense is running the double-wing or the run-and-shoot.

I hope Eagle Valley’s linemen got the game ball. They deserved it.

Other thoughts on last week’s Eagle River Rumble:

• Good play calling by the Devils staff in mixing up the backs with Jay Neal, Wyatt Borah and Kyle Williams, while still sticking to the bread and butter (Neal) in the crunch. (Hello, Minnesota Vikings? Did you forget Adrian Peterson had returned to your offense? I appreciate the fact that you did.)

• Eagle Valley must clean up penalties. Too many false starts and encroachments, and the Devils had a personal foul on Battle Mountain’s scoring drive. Do that against Rifle and you’re toast.

• I like the pistol, Eagle Valley, but you will have to pass out of it eventually. The Devils could run with nine Battle Mountain defenders in the box. Against Delta, Glenwood, Rifle, Palisade? Nope.

• Battle Mountain, that was a step. This year, it was a genuine game. (Last year’s 35-12 loss was the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig when forcing the opponent to play all 48 minutes is considered a moral victory.) The next step is more mental than physical.

To the Huskies credit, after the Devils marched down the field to score on their first possession, they didn’t fold. Battle Mountain stood up and played. Now you have to keep that going for 48 minutes with the mentality that you are going to win, not just compete. It’s time to beat a 3A team, and in a related development, you’re apparently playing Steamboat Springs on Friday.

• And now my favorite part of this rivalry game. Eagle Valley fans, you must root for the Huskies. Seriously, try saying, “Go Battle Mountain.” Huskies fans, yes, you are rooting for Eagle Valley to go 10-0. You should be saying, “Ain’t it great to be a Devil!” Wild-card points, people. The better one team does with the rest of the season, the better it is for the other. Let’s just all join hands and sing, “Kumbaya.”

• Oh, yes, I am also looking forward to seeing the Devils playing an actual football game at John Ramunno Field this week against Basalt. Welcome home, fellas.

Test time

Eagle Valley and Vail Mountain School soccer have a lot in common today with revenge games.

The Devils are at Glenwood Springs for Round 2 against the Demons. What has impressed me most about Eagle Valley soccer has been its collective response to that opening OT loss to Glenwood. That could have been a “Here we go again” moment. Instead, the Devils have won six straight.

There’s no motivational speech needed for tonight. In fact, calm down, guys. Tonight is all about poise. Stubler Field is a very tough place to play. Calls will go against you. Too bad. You can’t care. You must stay poised and focus on what you can control, which is your play. Despite that loss, you are better than the Demons. You need to show it tonight. Go get it.

Meanwhile, our fighting Gore Rangers host Roaring Fork at The Bob. (If there’s a guy without a head walking around East Vail today, it’s not the headless horseman from an Ichabod Crane story. It’s because Bandoni watched the GOP debate on Wednesday.)

For all the success VMS soccer had last year, there’s still the matter of the Rams. They won the 3A Slope last year. (Yes, VMS advanced further in the playoffs, but … ) This is not a league game, and I don’t care. Time to send a message.

No idea

OK, so I’ve attended two Battle Mountain soccer games this year, and the Huskies have lost both. Huskies coach David Cope may be filing a restraining order.

OK, Battle Mountain soccer has had two games in Eagle County so far — the 1-0 loss at Eagle Valley and then THE Classical Academy last week. (Does TCA think it’s Ohio State?) So, if you’ve been to those games because a trip to Delta is not your idea of a good time, then you have some question marks when it comes this team.

TCA wasn’t a bad lost; it was shocking how it happened — three goals in three minutes. From a Battle Mountain perspective, losing to Eagle Valley, 1-0, isn’t a bad loss either, although that takes some adjustment for Huskies partisans.

The Huskies have won at Montrose and at Steamboat Springs, two good wins.

Battle Mountain has six points for the taking this week with a roadie at Palisade and a home game vs. Delta. (Fear not, people. I’m not going.)

Bottom line is that the questions are going to be answered in October.

No idea, Part II

The weirdest moment of the week came when I hit Twitter on Saturday. Longmont Christian apparently beat Vail Christian football, 45-26.

Umm …

How’d that happen? Longmont Christian dropped its program and the Saints had a bye week.

But, seriously, if we’re going to have a fictional game, could we make up a storyline where Vail Christian wins?

The Saints are at Nederland on Friday. For realsies.

Alumni watch

• Mariel Gutierrez is still good at soccer. The Eagle Valley grad had her first collegiate goal for Northern Colorado on Sunday in a 3-1 loss to Colorado State.

• Acacia Ortiz, recently from Battle Mountain, is a starter for Colorado School of Mines soccer.

• Melinda Vickers, former Huskies keeper, is off to a 3-0 start for Elmhurst (Illinois) College.

• Speaking of the Land of Lincoln, Austin Ellsworth, Vail Christian ’13, is now a wide receiver for Illinois College and has hauled in three touchdown passes.

By the way, if you have alumni highlights, please email them to

Volleyball, XC and golf

• OK, league play has already started for Vail Christian and the Saints are 2-0 in the Gore League. The Vails play tonight as the Saints call on Vail Mountain School. I’ll be at that one tonight, but I’m also looking forward to seeing how Vail Christian and Battle Mountain square off on Tuesday. Should be interesting.

Battle Mountain has played all of three matches going into this weekend. The season gets going in earnest with a western swing through Delta and Palisade on Friday and Saturday.

Eagle Valley’s at Summit today and home for Rifle on Saturday. The early favorites in the 4A Slope appear to be Steamboat Springs and Delta, but that doesn’t mean much until 14 league game have been played.

• Battle Mountain girls’ cross-country still holds the No. 2 spot in 4A in the poll. Air Academy is No. 1. The Huskies moved up to No. 3 on the boys’ side, their highest mark in any state poll since 2007.

And, yes, it’s the Eagle Valley Invite this week at the Gypsum Creek Golf Course on Saturday.

• Local golf teams will announce their regional lineups for Steamboat Springs in the next day or two. Good luck to all at Haymaker on Tuesday.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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